Saturday, May 2, 2015

Santa Fe Painting Retreat, Part 7

Master Painter Albert Handell's Oil Palette

It's hard to believe, but our painting retreat in Santa Fe is now just about over.  Our last full day of painting included a visit to Albert Handell's studio.  What a way to end the week!

But first, after an early breakfast, we headed over to the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary on Upper Canyon Road.  The 135 acres includes trails, gardens and Davey's home. As much as the Center is for the birds, it's also for the artists.  Davey himself was an artist, as is noted on the Center's website:
A vanguard of modern art, Randall Davey was an important part of the Santa Fe Art Colony, and was a skilled painter, printmaker and sculptor. Davey successfully practiced his art here in his studio until his death in 1964. In 1983, the Davey family generously gifted the property to the National Audubon Society to be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary, and used as an educational, cultural and historical center. Davey's works, along with antique furnishings and personal memorabilia are exhibited in house, art studio and administrative offices.

We set up on the grounds around the house and caught the early morning light.  I enjoyed painting a little piece of the house plus some of the distant hills.

Springtime at Randall's House 9x12 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Afterward, we had an appointment to visit Albert in his studio.  As I've mentioned many times before, he welcomes visitors if he is available.  We were lucky enough to catch him when he had just come back from the Plein Air Convention & Expo in California and a workshop in Maryland.  As always, he and Jeanine were very cordial and gave us a studio tour.  I always enjoy visiting because his studio, though incredibly well-organized, is packed with things to interest a visiting artist.  Not just paintings, but also taborets, pastel boxes, oil palettes and more.

Pastels by Albert Handell

(By the way, I should mention that we have changed the dates for Albert's mentoring workshop in Sedona next year so it won't conflict with the 2016 Plein Air Convention & Expo, which will be held in Tucson.  The new dates are March 20-26, 2016.  For full details, visit or

For me, the retreat ended after the studio visit.  The others went off to paint the incredible sky we had in the afternoon, but sadly, I needed to get back to our rental house to do laundry and pack up for my flight to Seattle.  I'm judging the Northwest Pastel Society's annual international open exhibition next week and also teaching a workshop in conjunction with it.  I'm looking forward to it very much!

Even though the retreat is just about over, we're already making plans to return to Santa Fe next spring, April 24-30, 2016.  If you're interested, please let me know.  (Preference is given to previous students.)  Between this year and next, I'll be thinking of many exciting new painting locations!

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